The cable portion of the 2015 TCA Winter Press Tour officially begins today, and we’ll be live-blogging from the tour to tell you some of what was discussed.
The first panel following this morning’s separate Netflix announcements focuses on “TV Everywhere,” as we saw how people are watching TV on smartphones, tablets and more. All of the top cable companies offer alternative means of watching shows.
ESPN’s first production is “Versus” executive produced by Eva Longoria, who was present for the panel. The show explores the moments when the world of sports transcended the action on the field, and explored those heroes. (Speaking of heroes, Marvel is teaming up with ESPN for a show as well.)
ESPN is also high on a series of weekly shorts that they will air on Friday nights, and Senior Director of Development Dan Silver is proud of the talent they’ve brought in to the network to tell their stories.
ESPN is doing more of 30 for 30, and their next feature is based on the “Miracle on Ice,” with a very different look at one of the most important games in history. What makes it different? It tells the story from the Soviet point of view. It is called “Of Miracles and Men,” and even if you’re not a sports fan, you might be interested in seeing it.
National Geographic Channels
CEO Courteney Monroe touted the ratings increases with things like NatGeo Wild and hit shows like Wicked Tuna. They announced that the long-running series Explorer is going to be returning.
They also announced a new late-night series called Star Talk hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, with Tyson himself at the panel to describe it. “Star Talk exists as a thriving radio show and podcast right now,” Tyson said, before talking about the new form. “It’s a mixture of comedy, science, and pop culture, fully blended. Every single episode,” he promised.
Beyond that, NatGeo has a show called Dino Autopsy on the way that will produce the first full-sized, anatomically-correct T-Rex that will also be cut open to see and explore.
On the new series front, there’s a show called Wild River Timber, taking place on the Yukon River with modern-day pioneers who collect timber to earn a living.
Brain Games returns on January 19, and the final season of Alaska State Troopers will premiere February 11. The network’s #1 series, Wicked Tuna, returns Sunday, Feb. 15. Wicked Tuna: North vs. South has been greenlit for a second season. Life Below Zero returns for another season on April.
The Big Picture With Kal Penn is a new addition to their line-up. The show takes big ideas and explains how they influence our lives.
American Genius is the next show that they previewed. It talks about some of the greatest rivalries between some of the world’s greatest innovators. On the panel to discuss the show are Apple’s Steve Wozniak, Twitter’s Biz Stone, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Executive Producer Stephen David.
Ultimate Survival Alaska was given its own panel to promote the show.
Killing Jesus is based on the best-selling book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, and it’s a retelling of the intense political, social and historical conflicts during the Roman Empire that ultimately led to the death of Jesus. Actors including Kesley Grammer, Eion Macken, and Emmanuelle Chriqui are involved.
The spotlight then moved to NatGeo Wild, which promises every Sunday night will bring us Destination Wild special, starting with the network television premiere of “Chimpanzee.” In February, NatGeo will premiere Wild Australia.
They are also bringing us Fish Bowl II with “four more hours of pure, unadulterated barnyard glory.”
On Groundhog Day, February 2, they are re-airing American Beaver every hour for 20 straight hours. Around that time we will also see a special on unlikely pet friends.
Dr. Jan Pol and his wife Diane came by to promote Incredible! The Story of Dr. Pol. This year we will learn more about Dr. Pol’s history and how he came to be where he is.
NatGeo Wild will be bringing us a “Barkfest” weekend in May featuring programs like Is Your Dog A Genius? On the panel was a dog who understands complicated commands, like getting a soda out of the refrigerator.